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An interesting rook endgame : Gelfand v Grischuk

October 4, 2014

Earlier it was Saturday afternoon, so time to watch either (a) football on TV (b) chess on Playchess. No prizes for guessing my preference.

Today I mainly logged on to see how Mickey Adams and Nigel Short did in their round one games at the Poker Stars tournament in the Isle of Man. Both won, I am pleased to say, with Mickey playing a classic Mickey game, weaving somehow into a position where he had the pressure, which naturally turned into a pawn up in a rook and same coloured bishop ending, which naturally turned into 1-0. Lovely.

Whilst these were on, and once they had finished, I also looked at what other games were being played, and somehow, this position in Gelfand- Grischuk caught my eye.

If I were playing this as white, I would probably chicken out and permit a perpetual, endless checking, unless for some reason winning mattered, or if I couldn’t care whether I won or lost. As a child, I now recognise that my key weakness in my development as a player was my fear of losing, which resulted in a surfeit of draws, and an unwillingness to play on regardless. (To further wallow in self analysis and self pity, I put this down mainly to my personal character, but also the lack of ever having a trainer. Now, looking back, with the knowledge I have acquired over the years, and knowing such things as ‘playing for two results’ and assessing risks, I would certainly play on. But even now I would expect a draw. In my peak, playing years (teenage years) I was too frightened of losing, and this impaired my judgment. The player who always played next board to me at school, had no such fear, always grinded, and went on to become…GM Nigel Short.


As it happens, Gelfand played on and on, trying to make something of the position, and his efforts were rewarded with a win, on time, in a draw position. The pressure of defending a bad rook ending told even on renowned blitz experts like Grischuk. A lesson for us all.

I have no idea what the truth is. Black’s key question is whether to permit white to Pf4-f5 or whether to prevent it by advancing his f pawn, though the latter fatally weakens his g6 pawn. Grischuk chose to permit the f5 break through.

I have attempted some analysis of the game, and it is here. It may not, probably isn’t, totally correct, and quite possibly is far from the truth. I also wonder if black’s creation of the f7-g6-h5 structure (he could have adapted a different pose, I suggest with g5) was any better. I hope that Chessbase analyse the game or that Karsten Muller picks the ending: then the truth will be known. Until then, reader beware.



From → Chess

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Chess Musings and commented:
    Very instructive analysis.

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